Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In the Heat of Sedona

With the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) annual conference coming up next month in Las Vegas, my writing partner, Susan Smily, and I decided it would be a good idea to maximize the trip by doing some research for future books while we were out West. So we decided to spend a couple of weeks in Sedona, Arizona, one of our favorite spots on the planet, where we knew we could soak up the beauty of the landscape, enjoy the work of loads of artists who come here to be inspired, bask in the energy of a lot of metaphysical people, and do research for a series of future books set in this gorgeous place.

All our books to date have involved some aspect of metaphysics (ghosts, dreams, Tarot cards, Wicca, and magic in our Ariel Quigley cozy series, and two souls sharing one body in our new OTP thriller, Walk-In), but all the books have also involved public safety personnel because we’ve always had murders and hence we need law enforcers to be sure the bad guys get their just deserts. And if we’re going to have law enforcers or other public safety characters in our books, we want to make sure the details of their activities are accurate for the place we’re using as a setting.

For our thriller, which has an FBI agent as a major player, we visited the FBI offices in Washington, D.C. to get background on how informants are used and how agents are sometimes called upon to babysit witnesses, both of which activities play a role in Walk-In.

Likewise, when we decided to set our Ariel Quigley mystery series in Alexandria, Virginia, we got in touch with the public information officer at the Alexandria Police Department, Amy Bertsch, who gave us a couple of hours of her time answering our questions and even set up such fun experiences as a tour of the jail (definitely confining); a lie detector test (I flunked); an interview with their crime scene specialist so we could ask him how the crime scenes in our various planned works would look (really messy); and best of all, a drive-around with Sergeant John Gregg, who became our favorite cop from that day forward. We liked him so much we made him a love interest for our psychic detective in the Ariel Quigley series. In fact, our friendship with John has been on-going and led us to suggest the panel discussion for the PSWA conference entitled “Cozying Up to Your Favorite Cop: How Cozy and Other Genre Writers Use Public Safety Characters in Their Novels.”

Here in beautiful Sedona, we’ve talked to Pete Sanders, founder of the nonprofit “Free Soul,” which teaches people the science behind psi phenomena, and author of several books, including You Are Psychic,  Access Your Brain’s Joy Center, and Scientific Vortex Information. (This last book offers the science behind why the famous vortexes in Sedona do what they do to people’s energy fields.) Pete also gave us some leads for getting information about the public schools, as we think the plots for our new series lend themselves to a teenage protagonist.

This coming week, we’ve also lined up interviews with the public information officer at the Sedona Police Department, the Sedona Fire Department and EMT service, and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department. And just for ambience, we’re planning to take in a local theater production, some local music, and a trip to the casino in Camp Verde, to the south of Sedona—for research purposes only, of course. (Some work isn’t so tough.)

So as the sun sets over the red rocks of Sedona each evening, we thank our publisher, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press, for suggesting we go to the PSWA conference this year!

Anybody wanting to know more about us can visit our author websites: and And you can find all our books on Amazon.

Honora Finkelstein, co-author with Susan Smily of the Oak Tree Press thriller Walk-In.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Looking forward to seeing you two again at the PSWA conference. You'll enjoy yourself and meet lots of public safety officers in almost any field you cn imagine.


Sunny Frazier said...

Say hi to Kris Neri at the Well Red Coyote in Sedona for me. So glad to have you on board with OTP and the PSWA members are going to love you two! Wish I could attend but I have a biopsy coming up on my thyroid and need to stay close to the VA.

Excited that you're on the road again. Haven't seen enough of your at conferences and conventions. Still have terrific memories of you in Boise!

Monti said...

I so love Sedona. We were there again for a week during April. My OTP book, Eagle Rising, is set in Sedona, using lots of metaphysical experiences. And Night Watch is the story of a Walk-In.

Enjoy the glorious Red Rock Country!


Shalanna said...

My other series (the Ari series) takes my heroine to various power places, such as Marfa, Texas, Sedona, AZ, and Groom Lake in Nevada--against her skeptical will. So I love these kinds of books! Have fun at the conference and doing your sightseeing!

I will now go LIKE your book pages and Amazon author page!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a great time! I think the research is one of the best parts about being a writer. You get to research by taking a vacation!!

--John Brantingham

marja said...

You're going to love the PSWA conference. Wish I could go this year, but I can't.

The type of research you're doing sounds like a lot of fun, as well as being useful. Great blog!